I thieved the title of this post from its inspiration, another by David French on Patheos describing how Christians can implement social justice starting with ourselves and our homes. It also describes and expands research I’ve mentioned about the societal benefits of marriage and intact families. I thought it a mind-provoking follow-up to our last series, and a good introduction to this post attempting the same (though I think it will be my last on the topic for a while to avoid boring us all).
The best objection I’ve read so far to my arguments is that a solid society and marriage are correlated, but not causated (thanks to Timothy Olmstead on Facebook for that one). In other words, when marriages dissolve, society dissolves, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the first causes the second.
Causation is difficult to prove scientifically, especially when one is discussing an institution that only partially resides within science. Marriage is much larger, spreading through the realms of interpersonal relationship, souls, bodies, spirituality, the Church, etc. Thus, to understand it well, as Christians, I am about to argue we need to start not with studies (though those are helpful) or personal opinions but Scripture, as it reads plainly, as Church fathers have understood and expressed it, and as it has persisted through time to reach us today.
Obviously, as I’ve been reiterating, I can’t go through that depth of documents in a lifetime, much less in a blog post. But I can mention a few pointers.
If we think about how Genesis displays God’s hand in creating humans and, thus, society, we see God creating relationships in this order:
1) God to man.
2) Husband to wife.
3) Husband and wife to children.
God created a set of mediating institutions between humans and himself and each other to guard and negotiate the complex set of relationships that compose society (the economy, which we place so chiefly today, is much less prominent than others). Chief among these was church, and second to it was marriage. God didn’t randomly throw the world together. I posit his arrangement should indicate our understanding. That’s all.
For a more thought-out discussion of related issues, I suggest interested readers check up on the Catholic teaching regarding subsidiarity. I am not a Roman Catholic, but appreciate their depth of history and tradition of wholistic social thought.